Rev Stephen McKinney-Whitaker
Over the past year I’ve taken steps to become a chaplain for the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). Last month, I did my final two-day chaplain training so I could be assigned to a trooper station. I learned about different types of stress and trauma troopers experience and how chaplains can be a service to troopers and their families. I learned about the history of the PSP, and found out that it was the first state-wide police force in the country. In 1916, President Theodore Roosevelt said of the PSP:
The Pennsylvania State Police is a model of efficiency, a model of honesty… I feel so strongly about them that the mere fact a man is honorably discharged from this Force would make me at once, and without hesitation, employ him for any purpose needing courage, prowess, good judgment, loyalty and entire trustworthiness. This is a good deal to say of any organization, and I say it without qualification of the Pennsylvania (State) Police."
I am honored to be able to serve our community by serving those who serve all of us. Troopers in their daily work can experience stress, trauma, isolation, and a lot of negative words and emotions directed toward them. Chaplains work as part of Member Assistance Program (MAP) that supports all who work with the PSP. Chaplains offer support and assistance to all Department personnel and their families by encouraging, listening and comforting anyone needing assistance with spiritual issues. Chaplains, if requested, can visit sick or injured Department personnel or family members at medical facilities or their residences.
I see my work as a chaplain as an extension of my ministry at Derry. I’m called not only to serve the unique community of Christians at Derry, but to serve our community, just as our church is called to serve our community. I stopped in last week and was introduced to the station. I will visit my assigned station -- the one at the corner of 39 and 22 -- about once a week for an hour. I’ll get to know those who work at the station and the troopers. The ministry of chaplains is really a ministry of presence. I’ll be a resource when needed, but most of the time I’m just available to talk, and most often listen. I may also be asked to give a prayer at the PSP Academy in Hershey or participate in some other function or ceremony.
I appreciate the Session for allowing and encouraging me to be a part of this ministry in our community. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and ask.